Botticelli became an apprentice when he was about fourteen years old, which would indicate that he received a fuller education than did other Renaissance artists. Vasari reported that he was initially trained as a goldsmith by his brother Antonio.
The masterworks Primavera (c. 1478) and The Birth of Venus (c. 1485) were both seen by Vasari at the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de'Medici at Castello in the mid-16th century, and until recently it was assumed that both works were painted specifically for the villa.
In later life, Botticelli was one of Savonarola's followers, though the full extent of Savonarola's influence is uncertain. The story that he burnt his own paintings on pagan themes in the notorious "Bonfire of the Vanities" is not told by Vasari, who asserts that of the sect of Savonarola "he was so ardent a partisan that he was thereby induced to desert his painting, and, having no income to live on, fell into very great distress.
Botticelli -La Primavera|
Venus, the goddess of love, is standing in the centre of the picture. Above her, Cupid is aiming one of his arrows of love at the Charites (Three Graces), who are dancing a rondel. The garden of Venus is guarded on the left by Mercury, who stretches out his hand to touch the clouds. Mercury's has winged shoes and the caduceus staff which he uses to drive two snakes apart. Botticelli has depicted the snakes as winged dragons. On the right, Zephyrus, the god of the winds, is forcefully pushing his way in, in pursuit of the nymph Chloris. Next to her walks Flora, the goddess of spring. (c. 1478)
Botticelli -Birth of Venus|
The classical goddess Venus emerges from the water on a shell, blown towards shore by the Zephyrs, symbols of spiritual passions. She is joined by one of the Horae, goddesses of the seasons, who hands her a flowered cloak. (c. 1485)